Daniel Martin, of the Daily Mail reports that an EU plan to restrict the use of airline passenger lists would undermine efforts to control illegal immigration, the Home Secretary warned last night.
Jacqui Smith said the European Union’s move to harmonise the way governments use the data poses a ‘real risk’ to the UK’s e-Borders programme.
The e-Borders scheme aims to count every traveller in and out of the country to help pinpoint illegal immigrants.
Britain collects 30 million passenger name records (PNR) every year, which include names, addresses, email addresses, whether a traveller had luggage, the date they reserved tickets, their route, whether they did not turn up for the flight, and whether they paid in cash.
Crucially, the records can link a name with a specific credit card and a particular journey – clues which could be vital in an investigation by police or the security services.
The EU wants all member states to collect and share the details for flights in and out of Europe, to combat terrorism and organised crime.
But it says governments should not collect information about flights within Europe – and they should not use any information to combat illegal immigration.
Yesterday a document from the Home Secretary said: ‘As currently drafted, there is a real risk that the EU PNR proposal would degrade e-Borders by prohibiting the use of PNR data for combating immigration offences.
‘We will therefore lobby strongly for the framework decision not to preclude the use of PNR for this purpose.’
The document also revealed that the Government is powerless to collect PNR-style data on travellers who arrive in Britain by coach.